Small Newsie, St. Louis, Missouri.jpg
Photographer: Lewis Hine via the National Archives

Focusing Questions:

As we explored our unit on Child Labor, we were left with many unanswered, disturbing questions:

  • What became of the "Newies", the children of the urban streets who tried to survive by selling newspapers?

  • Where were the families of these children? Why didn't their parents help them?

  • How many of them survived the bitter, cold winters?
  • Did anyone try to help these children?

In the course of our additional exploration, we learned about the Orphan Trains, trainloads of children who were scooped up off the dirty city streets and sent to farm families out west. These Orphan Trains were organized by the Children's Aid Society of New York. "Between 1853 and 1929, more than 150,000 abandoned, abused and orphaned children were rescued from the streets and slums of New York City and taken by train to start new lives with families on farms across the country. The emphasis was on giving these needy children a family life." Source

What became of these children? Were they welcomed into families as adopted children, to be loved and nurtured? Or were they used a cheap labor, an indentured servant, until they were old enough to go out on their own?

Explore what happened to the children of the slums from the mid 1850's to well into 1929. See "Summer Reading".